In an Instagram post that has been viewed more than 26,000 times, Ruth Naylor, 32, told her over 14,900 followers earlier this week: ‘It really happened. I won. And for anyone who tries to contact me tonight, I’m busy….on a dance floor.’
An image posted on the social-media site the following morning showed an ecstatic Ms Naylor with the caption: ‘Everything hurts apart from my heart. My feet, my head, my face from smiling….. but my heart is still dancing.’
After being diagnosed with a rare form of Hodgkin lymphoma – cancer of the lymphatic system – in August last year, the mother-of-two said ‘dying is not an option’.
Over the course of her treatment Ms Naylor, from Hale, Greater Manchester, released images of herself enduring grueling chemotherapy, including losing her hair, holding her head in her hands and hovering over a sick bucket as she lay in bed exhausted.
At the time, Ms Naylor said: ‘On paper, I have it all. A beautiful home we built ourselves, two gorgeous children and a brilliant career.
‘When I’m in my hospital gown, I’m no different to anyone else. Just another woman desperate not to die. Cancer really teaches you humility’.
Mother-of-two Ruth Naylor, who released candid photos to highlight the grim reality of living with cancer, told her Instagram followers earlier this week she has been given the all clear
Doctors were unsure if Ms Naylor (pictured in December during treatment) would survive
Images showed Ms Naylor holding her head in her hands while enduring chemotherapy
She suffered from Hodgkin lymphoma (pictured with her children Eva, four, and Oscar, two)
Ms Naylor who ‘has it all’ released photos to highlight the reality of living with cancer
Ms Naylor says she has it all on paper but is no different to anyone else in a hospital gown
She ended a ‘family photo fail’ caption with the line ‘maybe next year. Definitely next year’
Posted 48 hours before her next chemo round, Ms Naylor insisted she will ‘run until I can’t’
In a light-hearted post, Ms Naylor joked about her thinning hair, unsure if it would stick around
WHAT IS HODGKIN’S LYMPHOMA?
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of cancer that starts in the white blood cells.
It affects around 1,950 people each year in the UK.
A common early symptom is having a painless swelling in the armpits, neck and groin.
Some people also experience heavy night sweating, extreme weight loss, itching, shortness of breath and coughing.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is most common between the ages of 20 and 24, and 75 and 79.
It has been linked to people with lowered immunity, a family history of the condition, smokers and those who are overweight.
Treatment may include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, steroids and stem cell or bone marrow transplants.
‘No more cancer, just a life back’
Earlier this week, a clearly emotional Ms Naylor told her followers: ‘So today something awesome happened.
‘I took a phone call from my oncology team this morning and they gave me that thing that I really needed.
‘I have the all clear, complete metabolic response, no evidence of disease.
‘I’m done, no more cancer, no more treatment, no more uncertainty, just a life back.
‘To say it feels incredible is an understatement.’
‘Dying is not an option for me’
Speaking of her decision to share her cancer battle online, Ms Naylor said: ‘I didn’t want to have the same conversation hundreds of times, so I posted an update on my Instagram.
‘Most of my friends and family have been angry on my behalf, but I think I can’t start thinking, “Why me?” Instead, it’s more a case of, “Why not me?”
‘One in two of us will get cancer at some stage in our lives and someone has got to be that one.’
‘After a cancer diagnosis, instantly, you are faced with losing everything and your perspective of everything changes.
‘I think we’re obsessed with portraying a perfect persona, but cancer really teaches you humility.’
During Ms Naylor’s treatment, when her prognosis was uncertain, she said: ‘When I’m in bed at night and the house is quiet, I can’t help wondering how it will all end.
‘I ask myself, “What if I don’t wake up in the morning and the children are left without a mum?”
‘But dying is not an option for me. Throughout this process I have been as mentally strong as I can be, and I really hope that helps get me though.’
Ms Naylor posted images of her chemotherapy journey on Instagram to inspire others
When in bed at night and the house was quiet, she wondered if her children would lose her
Ms Naylor vowed to stay as mentally strong as she could to assist her in overcoming cancer
She first visited a doctor in August after suffering flu-like symptoms and fatigue for weeks
She blamed her exhaustion on working full time and raising her two young children alone
GETTING BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HER FRIENDS
Although Ms Naylor endured grueling chemotherapy with no promise of a positive outcome, she insisted she ‘used the time to laugh’.
She took to Instagram last October to share a photo of her and her best friend reminiscing on their younger selves while she spent all day in a room being infused with ‘highly-toxic chemicals’.
Describing the visit as ‘the best medicine’, Ms Naylor ended the post saying you can’t beat laughing about unrepeatable stories with an old friend, but adds she can beat cancer.
Ms Naylor posted a photo last October laughing with her best friend during chemo
As well as teaching her ‘humility’, Ms Naylor says cancer has made her appreciate the simple things in life, such as a heartfelt letter from an old friend.
In an Instagram post last September Ms Naylor shared ‘a window to the past, full of mischief, misdemeanour and lessons learnt’.
She urged her followers to spend a minute appreciating how lucky they are, ‘then go make some memories’.
Heartfelt letters from old friends taught Ms Naylor to appreciate the little things
‘My whole world seemed to stop turning’
Ms Naylor first visited her doctor in August last year after suffering flu-like symptoms and shortness of breath for eight weeks.
She initially blamed her exhaustion on her busy life as a full-time working mother to her children, Eva, four, and Oscar, two, who she raises herself after a recent split from her husband.
Ms Naylor said: ‘I’d seen the doctor a fair bit with my children, so, as soon as I went in there she could tell I wasn’t right. I looked rough and wasn’t my normal bubbly self.’
At the University Hospital of South Manchester, an X-ray revealed what looked like a clot on her right lung, as well as abnormal blood tests.
After being given blood-thinning injections, doctors wanted to investigate further and asked Ms Naylor to return for a more detailed CT scan the next day.
She said: ‘That’s when everything changed for me. My whole world seemed to stop turning.
‘I had a wonderful life; a beautiful five-bedroom home in a lovely village, that me and my husband built ourselves, with the help of an architect.
‘And we always had five holidays a year.
‘But none of that mattered when the doctor said I had an abnormal mass in my chest, something they believed to be cancer.’
Ms Naylor worried she would be like her mother who died at just 47 from cancer of the liver
Her prognosis was unclear, with doctors being unable to answer whether she would survive
She endured six months of grueling chemotherapy, which caused her to lose her hair
Her mother was too ill for chemotherapy but Ms Naylor had to start her treatment immediately
She supported Stand Up To Cancer to help fund the development of live-saving treatments
‘Cancer doesn’t discriminate’
Ms Naylor’s thoughts quickly raced back to the early death of her mother, Louise, at just 47, five weeks after being diagnosed with liver cancer.
She said: ‘I was only 21 when my mum died, so when I was told I had cancer, I thought about my young children and how would they cope without me.’
The next day, Ms Naylor had a CT scan and more blood tests.
She said: ‘They found a tumour intertwined between my lung and my heart. I really felt like there was going to be no turning back from that point.
‘I asked, “Am I going to live?” They couldn’t even answer me that.’
It was not until a PET scan, which examines body tissues, a week later that Ms Naylor was told she had rare stage 2 B Hodgkin lymphoma.
Transferred to the The Christie cancer hospital, in Withington, Ms Naylor heard she would need six months of gruelling chemotherapy, possibly followed by radiotherapy.
She said: ‘My mum never got to the stage of having chemo, as she was so unwell, so I don’t know anyone who has ever had it.
‘Cancer doesn’t discriminate. I had no time to wait, so my treatment happened really quickly after my diagnosis.’